Lipulekh border row: Nepal govt moves to back new map legally, tables constitutional amendment

Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe’s proposal for approval to table the constitution (second amendment) bill in the House of Representatives or lower house of Parliament was unanimously endorsed.
Houses of Kirtipur are seen in the backdrop of mountains during lockdown in Kathmandu, Nepal.(AP)
Houses of Kirtipur are seen in the backdrop of mountains during lockdown in Kathmandu, Nepal.(AP)
Updated on May 31, 2020 07:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent | Posted by Arpan Rai

The Nepal government on Sunday tabled a constitutional amendment in Parliament to give legal backing to a new map that shows Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as part of the country’s territory, marking another twist in a border row with India.

Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe’s proposal for approval to table the constitution (second amendment) bill in the House of Representatives or lower house of Parliament was unanimously endorsed.

The government acted after the main opposition Nepali Congress, which had earlier sought more time to discuss the amendment within the party, directed its lawmakers to vote in favour of the proposal to make the new map a part of the Constitution. The central committee of the Nepali Congress made the decision at a meeting late on Saturday night.

There was no word on the development from Indian officials.

India had on Thursday called for “constructive and positive efforts” to end the border row with Nepal, saying mutual sensitivity and an environment of trust are needed for handling such issues among neighbours.

The Nepal government earlier planned to move the amendment in Parliament on May 27 but had to hold off on it because of lack of support from the Nepali Congress, which is required for the two-thirds majority needed to pass the change to the statute.

The delay allowed some breathing room for the two sides to tackle the border row, which began after Nepal protested against India’s opening of an 80-km road to Lipulekh on the Chinese border earlier this month. Nepal claims Lipulekh but the external affairs ministry contended the road was “completely within the territory of India”.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said last week India is monitoring recent developments in Nepal related to the border issue. “We note this matter is receiving careful consideration in Nepal, taking its seriousness into account,” he said.

“India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence. This is a continuous process and requires constructive and positive efforts,” he added.

Nepal released its new political map, depicting Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura within its borders, on May 20.

“An amendment bill is necessary to change the country’s map in the country’s Coat of Arms which is defined in Schedule 3 of the Constitution,” Tumbahangphe was quoted as telling the House by The Kathmandu Post.

Nepal’s Parliament functions on Sundays, with a weekly break on Saturdays.

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